2019 and counting

Life kind of just took off at the beginning of the year and I haven’t made time to catch up to it thoughtfully so it’s about time that I do. I’ll try not to be long-winded but there is much to catch up on! Bear with me…

In the middle of February I stepped into a position at a non-profit organization based out of Elizabeth, NJ called New York City Relief! The journey of getting there starts in Haiti! Soon after I got there in September of 2016, Hurricane Matthew passed through and Foundation for Peace (my org in Haiti) was desperate to support those who had lost everything in the floods. We put out a plea for anyone and everyone to come immediately and participate in widespread disaster relief. As the body of Christ does, there was mobilization of people and resources from all over the states and one of those volunteers was a young lady named Elysia who came with some of her church members (Liquid) on the first Matthew relief trip at the end of November. Fast forward two years and she is working for NYCR and I’m back in the states listening and praying and waiting for the next big step. Upon hearing that I was looking for a job she reached out and told said I should come and volunteer and check out the organization (of which I hadn’t heard of before) and see what I thought about applying for a position. I thought why not it can’t hurt! To make a very long story not so long, I went on a cold Wednesday in December and worked at the Relief Bus which is a mobile soup kitchen and resource hub for the homeless, and absolutely loved it and the NYCR staff I met. I immediately started the conversation about possibly coming to work with them and God kicked open the door and here I am!

It took a month and a half to finalize everything budget-wise for 2019 as we are a non-profit and rely solely on donor support, but I wasn’t worried. I knew I was going to be working with them before anyone else did. I had this peace that I’d only experienced before while working in Haiti and I knew that God had prepared me for this work for the past two years and before. Besides, in the in-between, I was hanging out with my niece and nephews and helping my mom take care of them so it’s not like I was just sitting and waiting impatiently for God to move.

My position is called an “Outreach Leader” and to simplify what I am doing; I work with volunteer groups who stay at our base in Elizabeth as well as others who come and meet us on location in NYC and help my co-working Outreach Leaders lead the mobile outreaches we have from Wednesday-Saturday. We (volunteers and leaders) make fresh soup and get fresh-baked Portuguese bread each morning to take with us on the bus. We also make hot chocolate in the cold months and fruit punch/lemonade when it’s warm. Along with the food and drink, we also bring socks to the street and offer prayer to each and every person who comes to the bus. Bombas has partnered with us and has donated an amazing amount of the most comfortable socks in existence, which our friends love! But the food/drink and socks are just a tool to get people there.

The deep work is done one on one with an Outreach Leader where we do a deep dive into someone’s life and situation and hardships and pain and pull out hope and dignity and love. As an OL I have the privilege to step into broken and potentially hopeless lives and provide hope through conversation and the connection of emergency resources. We connect people to everything from food stamps and clothing to emergency and long-term shelter to detox to legal help. Not only do we connect them but we advocate for them, using our platform of NYCR being faithful to the streets for the past 30 years. This right here is what I am most excited for; while food and drink is necessary and good, something that we do differently than anyone else serving the homeless in NYCR is that we fight for the least of these. We stand alongside them and cry with them and laugh with them. We restore their hope in God and their situation. Obviously these resources are needed but the true impact is when we can connect or re-connect a soul to God. Spiritual warfare is real and the Enemy wants nothing more than to keep people in depression and hopelessness and darkness. We see it every day we are on the streets… AND WE FIGHT IT.

Everything I am doing is new to me aside from the overarching experience of serving and loving on people in need. There is so much that I have learned already in the month+ I have been with NYCR and so so much that I still need to learn. From a physical standpoint, I don’t know north NJ much less NYC. From a heart standpoint, I need to learn how to listen and assess and love better. But God knows that, it’s why He put me here (among other things)!

Did I ever think I would be an urban missionary in one of the most influential and powerful cities in the world? No. But then again, did I ever think that I would be a missionary in Haiti? Hah.. It’s almost laughable how God has used me in the most obscure (to me) ways and been faithful to spread his love and change lives in the most tangible. I am living proof that grace is given to the worst of sinners. I am living proof that Love is a being and He is alive. It’s still hard to grasp why and how God has placed me where he has but I’ve given up on asking why and how. I just accept that there is nothing that I could do to deserve anything He sees fit to bless me with! My heart is so full. I am amazed.

My 8-week immersive training is almost finished and then I will step fully into my role here at NYCR but this is just the beginning of the best chapter yet. God’s not done with me yet! And until he is I will continue to use the gifts he has given me and this heart he is continuing to break for what breaks his. It’s all a journey. Don’t trust “the process”, trust the Processor.

Blessings,

Ben

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Please keep me in your prayers! I need them!

As I face down a mysterious future I am looking towards my Maker and Sustainer. I know that he has great things for me but I am in a position of waiting which no one likes, right? I recently took two days to fast in hopes that things would become a little clearer as to what he wants me to do with my life. Earlier this week I was convicted that I needed to go back to school and to do it full time which I hated, but I went forward with next steps and was going to do it. Over the past two days I have had peace about not going back to school full time. Now I know that I am an emotional person and I don’t want my emotions to dictate what I do. It is a possibility that I just hopped on board with a wise friend’s counsel and decided I didn’t need to return to school just because it appealed to my desire not to. It’s also a possibility that God is just not calling me back to school full time (which would be marvelous). I am in need of wisdom to understand what this “peace” is and if it is even peace from God.

Just a quick update about what’s been going on in my life..

Thanks for the continued prayers,

Ben

Giving Thanks

Today is a holiday that is dedicated to giving thanks. Although parts of its tradition have changed or been dropped over the years, the main aspect of Thanksgiving is still observed today. I feel like this holiday came in perfect timing for me this year, even though it does come at the exact same time every year haha. Ya know, God does that though; uses things that are already there in a new and unseen way to work on our hearts like never before.

My heart sure does need work though, in all seriousness. I have had a tough time accepting God’s will over my life several times before and I am sure that this won’t be the last; I’m a stubborn one all right. This holiday reminds me of everything that I have been blessed with, regardless of my unfilled desires. They say that thanksgiving and sadness cannot occupy the same heart and I believe that is true. Over the past couple days I have been trying to be thankful for what God has already given me and all that I’ve been blessed with instead of yearning after what I don’t have. My heart has definitely been in a better place because of it. It comes down to the selfishness of my heart: how I want my will over God’s, and I’m working on that by God’s grace.

I’m thankful for so much this year. As I get older and he matures me in understanding and all that, I can see clearer more of what God has done for me and how he’s done it. If I took time to write down everything, I would be here for too long haha. I am blessed and highly favored. Satan tries to have us take our eyes off of those realities and keep us down and depressed so that we can’t do all that God has called us to do! This is spiritual warfare that has been craftily designed to look like everyday problems. We need to focus on what God has done for us and continues to do for us every day instead of drowning inside our broken hearts and expectations.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends this year! Take some time to think and remember all that has been done for you, I guarantee it’ll be more than you imagined.

God bless,

Ben

Dealing with heart hurt

They say “the heart wants what the heart wants”, but that isn’t always what it needs…

I got some tough news yesterday. I’m not going to be getting the job that I wanted to and I’m struggling with that reality. There are parts of me that wanted to work for Liquid because of what they do and who they are, and then there are parts of me that just don’t want to have to restart the process over again. That last one is laziness rearing it’s ugly head, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.

Today was tougher than yesterday emotionally. I got the news in the middle of the day yesterday and was sad for a bit but then I went to the SHC Thanksgiving dinner and helped out and talked to people which lifted my mood. Today I didn’t have those types of things to lift me out of it so it was harder.

Over the course of the past two years I have made a conscious effort to keep myself from hyping up possibilities for the future in case they never become realities, but it rarely actually goes that way. I have always had trouble swallowing the reality of life not going where or how I want it, as I believe we all have, but recently it’s been harder to accept things not happening that I feel like are good or even great things. That is when one’s faith is really put to the flames: when you believe with full conviction that something would be really good not only for you, but for the Kingdom; and then it doesn’t happen or it doesn’t happen on your timeline. This isn’t the first situation like this that I’ve had to wrestle with over the last couple years and it never seems to get easier.

I am deeply reminded that the words of man are fleeting. Several times now I have been assured by others that (this thing) or (that thing) should/could/or would happen, and come to find out, they don’t. Can I fault the people I listened to? No. They always have good intentions and genuinely believe that these things could come to pass, but they don’t have the power in and of themselves to make it happen. The pain of let down or disappointment can feel so overwhelming sometimes that we can forget to be thankful for the good that God has blessed us with. We forget that God has dope things in the works and we just can’t see behind the scenes. We take our eyes off of where our help comes from and set them on our current situations. We cannot continue to do this friends! There is only heartbreak in these types of life situations. There is only pain to be had. Only in the promises of God can we find peace and hope and comfort in the midst of the hurt.

This is what I am trying to do.

God knows where I’ll be next year. He knows who will keep me company. He knows every detail, it’s just trusting in what you can’t see that’s the hard part, right? I have learned to deal with this kind of pain so I can safely say by God’s grace that I am not paralyzed. I just need to keep loving and serving who I have in front of me and searching for what God has next for me.

Please continue to pray for peace for my heart as well as discernment in decision making. I want so greatly for certain things to happen; good things, but they are ultimately out of my grasp. I need to daily lay down my will and take up his. Lord give me the grace to do this..

With love,

Ben

So What Now?

It has been quite some time since I last posted on here, and my apologies for those who read and want to keep updated. Its been an interesting time transitioning back into life in North America for sure. There is such a stark contrast between life in Haiti and life in the States, as I imagine, you can understand.

If I’m honest, in many ways it’s been nice to be back. Haiti was a sacrifice for sure. It was tough, it wasn’t fun all the time. I missed my family and friends. So being back in the states with all this luxury around isn’t all that bad.. but there are parts that I miss. There are people I left behind in Haiti that are so precious to me. There are beautiful customs and a vibrant culture that I’d much rather live in. There is an ease of spiritual focus and access to God that is hard to find in the States.

But, like all things, my time in Haiti has come to an end and I am being called to other things. Currently I don’t know what I’ll be doing or where or with who. All I know is that God is faithful and he will provide for me. I had an interview last week for a position at a church up in Parsippany called Liquid Church and am waiting to hear back about whether or not they want me to come and interview again. Please keep that in your prayers for me! I would love to work at Liquid; I went up there the first Sunday I was back to check it out and it’s pretty awesome. I like the way they do things and they are reaching so many in the Parsippany area and all around NJ. I have sent my resume out to other organizations and haven’t heard anything back as of yet. I also am looking around for a reliable car to buy but can’t buy it until I know that I’ll have a job or at least some income, so that’s been an annoyance.

God is calling me to serve where I’m at as I wait. I have been spending time with Seth’s little ones and helping mom out several days a week which is challenging but rewarding. It’s nice to be in their lives so much since I really wasn’t that much for the past two years. They constantly remind me of how I act with God. They are rowdy and hurt themselves, they don’t want to listen and often say “no way!” This is exactly how I act with God many times. There are many things that I don’t want to do and when he calls me I either try to ignore him or just say no. Sounds kinda like Jonah eh? Anyway, it’s been a blessing to be home. It’s also been great to spend time with my marassa, Adam. Twins being two years apart is less than ideal but we made it work. I’m spending a few days a week at his house hanging out and making up for lost time with him 🙂

Other than that, not much else has been going on. I was just thinking about how it’s already been over a month and I don’t have a job or any semblance of what my life will look like in 3 years.. or 3 months. It’s an exercise in faith for sure and when I take my eyes off of God and his promises it gets pretty sad pretty quick so I’m trying to keep my eyes focused on him.

Please continue to pray for me: that will be my plea every time I write one of these. We can never have too much prayer put into something! I am continuing to pray that God will give me grace to lay down my will unto his so that I am not upset with whatever he chooses for me. I’m also continuing to pray that he either changes the desires of my heart or that he gives me those desires.

“…For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt. 6:32-34

Be blessed

Ben

Re-entry

So I came back to Jersey on Monday after a couple days in Florida. Re-entry and adjustments have been fairly easy over the past two years because every time it’s been just for a couple weeks or a month and them I’m back to Haiti. This time is a little different, as my mission has come to the end of it’s two years in Haiti and I won’t be returning (to work).

My time in Florida was blessed as I got to catch up with three friends, two of which I have missed dearly: Danny D and Ryan N. The third, Hank, was a gentleman I met years ago while interning in Haiti; he had come to serve with (and still does) his church. It was a blessed time as I got the chance to reconnect with old friends and talk about life and how God was working, all the while the weather was gorgeous!

The change started to set in when I came to Jersey and had time to sit and think.. it was weird; still is. It’s going to take a good amount of time to process and digest the past two years. There’s so much that I need to unpack (mentally, emotionally) and time is what’s needed in order to do that. Time and prayer will be my allies in this process. Aside from unpacking things, I am going to be on the lookout for jobs and service opportunities and such. I feel like, in part, I have to restart my life! God has provided for me over the past two years and I know he will in this time of transition.

Please be praying for several things for me over the next months:

That I would be listening to what God wants me to do.

That I would continually sacrifice my own will for His.

That he would give me clarity and wisdom in every-day decisions.

That I would step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

 

I look forward to giving updates as they come along!

God bless,

Ben

Old/New Things

The lack of posts as of late has been because I haven’t really had much to talk about over the past month. I don’t want to leave you guys in the dark here, so I decided it was about time to give you a little update. With that, here is what has happened over the past couple weeks:

The house next door (our future guest house) is coming along quickly! The plumbing is completely done as well as the electric. The rooms have been changed and walls moved and bathrooms put in. The things that remain for it to be ready to be used are finishing the smooth coat on the walls and sanding so that paint can go on and the floor being tiled. After that, the extras have to be bought and put in (lights, fans, AC, solar panels, etc.) This next team coming on the 10th will be the last team to stay at this house! We are so excited for this project to be finished so that our teams and visitors can be more comfortable. God has been faithful to us as all of the money needed for the first floor has been donated!!! If you are one of the donors, we want to extend a warm thank you to you and your families. This will be such a blessing for the Foundation for Peace!

This last week (August 25-September 2) I had the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic again! It was a great time of relaxation and fellowship with my fellow ministers for the Kingdom of Christ. The two American workers Aimee and Anna left shortly after I arrived so the majority of my time was spent with Fania (as per usual). I love that woman, she has become like a sister to me over the past several months and even though we have only spent a total of less than a month together I feel like we’ve been the best of friends forever. I have enjoyed times of deep conversation with her about Haiti, God, racism, and other such amazing topics. There have also been many times of laughter and joking. For some reason she feels comfortable around me which I don’t really understand haha.. this chunky white guy with a big beard and lots of hair.. but I thank God for each time I get to spend a couple days with her. I am praying that she can continue her education in the States! That would be such a great opportunity for her and one that she wants. Please, even if you don’t know her, pray for Fania! She needs it! I have shared some about her past in previous blogs and so for those who read those, you can imagine how studying in the States would be a big blessing for her.

As my time here comes closer to a close, I ask that you would continue to pray into my future. Please pray for wisdom and clarity about what God wants me to do after I am done with Foundation for Peace. Please pray also that I would have the humility to accept his will for me even if I don’t agree. Please also pray for my future wife, as I have been as of late. (I shoulda done been praying for her for a long time huh..) I know God has great things in store for me, but the part where I don’t know what they are can be frustrating sometimes. There are details about my future that I really desire to come to fruition and sometimes leaving those desires in the hands of another, even if that other is The Supreme being, is tough to do. It requires me to give them up and just accept which, if any, of them come to pass.

I am very much looking forward to returning to NJ in October and spending time with those I love. I have been feeling a deep yearning for my loved ones and country as of late, I’m not sure if that’s because the time to return is coming closer or what. There has been an interesting update about possibilities for work after this, but I don’t know enough about it yet to feel comfortable sharing. Hopefully after I meet with some people this week I will have a better understanding about the opportunity and be able to post about it.

Please continue to pray for yer boy as the end of this year will potentially be full of hard choices. God’s guidance via the Holy Spirit is what I want and need in order to navigate the waters of the future.

Mesi anpil,

Ben